Background Paper Functions of the Coronavirus Nucleocapsid Protein

  • Paul S. Masters
  • Lawrence S. Sturman
Conference paper
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 276)


In 1962 Caspar and Klug conjectured that self-assembly of equivalent or quasi-equivalent protein subunits and viral nucleic acid produces either icosahedral or helical structures according to the biological functions required (1). Some 15 years later Wengler introduced the terms “transcription helices” and “translation helices” to describe the relationship between helical ribonucleoprotein (RNP) structure and genome function for animal viruses containing single-stranded RNA (2). In transcription helices the RNA genome is transcribed into complementary nucleic acid, without permanent disassembly of the RNP. In translation helices the RNA is liberated from the RNP and translated into protein. To account for the fact that no examples of enveloped viruses containing translation helices had been described, Wengler speculated that “the forces exerted on the viral RNP during budding necessitate the design of a helical RNP of such high stability that RNA cannot be released for translation in vivo. Therefore, translation helices will not be present in viruses which obtain a viral membrane by budding”.


Nucleocapsid Protein Mouse Hepatitis Virus Human Coronavirus Virus Nucleocapsid Protein Complementary Nucleic Acid 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. 1.
    D.L.D. Caspar and A. Klug, Physical principles in the construction of regular viruses, Cold Spring Harbor Sympos. Quant. Biol 27: 1 (1962).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    G. Wengler, Structure and function of the genome of viruses containing single-stranded RNA as genetic material: the concept of transcription and translation helices and the classification of these viruses into six groups, Current Topics Microbiol, and Immunol 70: 239 (1977).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    W. Spaan, D. Cavanagh, and M.C. Horzinek, Coronaviruses: structure and genome expression, J. Gen. Virol 69: 2939 (1988).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    S.S. Schreiber, T. Kamahora, and M.M.C Lai, Sequence analysis of the nucleocapsid protein of human Coronavirus 229E, Virology. 169: 142 (1989).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    T. Kamahora, L.H. Soe, and M.M.C. Lai, Sequence analysis of the nucleocapsid gene and leader RNA of human Coronavirus OC43, Virus Res 12: 1 (1989).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    C.C. Query, R.C. Bentley, and J.D. Keene, A common RNA recognition motif identified within a defined Ul RNA bindingdomain of the 70K Ul snRNP protein, Cell, 57: 89 (1989).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    S.G. Robbins, M.F. Frana, J.J. McGowan, J.F. Boyle, and K.V. Holmes, RNA binding proteins of Coronavirus MHV: detection of monomeric and multimeric N protein with an RNA overlayprotein blot assay, Virology. 150: 402 (1986).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    S.A. Stohlman, R.S. Baric, G.W. Nelson, L.H. Soe, L.M. Welter, and R.J. Deans, Specific interaction between Coronavirus leader RNA and nucleocapsid protein, J. Virol 62:4288 (1988).PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    L.S. Sturman, K.V. Holmes, and J. Behnke, Isolation of Coronavirus envelope glycoproteins and interaction with the viral nucleocapsid, J. Virol. 33:449 (1980).PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    S.G. Siddell, A. Barthel, and V. Ter Meulen, Coronavirus JHM: a virion-associated protein kinase, J. Gen. Virol 52: 235 (1981).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    S.M. Wilbur, G.W. Nelson, M.M.C. Lai, M. McMillan, and S.A. Stohlman, Phosphorylation of the mouse hepatitis virus nucleocapsid protein, Biochem. Biophvs. Res. Commun 141: 7 (1986).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    S.A. Stohlman, J.O. Fleming, C.D. Patton, and M.M.C. Lai, Synthesis and subcellular localization of the murine Coronavirus nucleocapsid protein, Virology. 130: 527 (1983).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    S.R. Compton, D.B. Rogers, K.V. Holmes, D. Fertsch, J. Remenick, and J.J. McGowan, In vitro replication of mouse hepatitis virus strain A59, J. Virol 61: 1814 (1987).PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    S. Perlman, D. Ries, E. Bolger, L.-J. Chang, and C.M. Stoltzfus, MHV nucleocapsid synthesis in the presence of cycloheximide and accumulation of negative strand MHV RNA, Virus Res 6: 261 (1987).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    R.S. Baric, G.W. Nelson, J.O.Fleming, R.J. Deans. J.G. Keck, N. Casteel, and S.A. Stohlman, Interactions between Coronavirus nucleocapsid protein and viral RNAs: implications for viral transcription, J. Virol., 62: 4280 (1988).PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul S. Masters
    • 1
  • Lawrence S. Sturman
    • 1
  1. 1.Wadsworth Center for Laboratories and ResearchNew York State Department of HealthAlbanyUSA

Personalised recommendations